As you all very well know, pop-up dinners are so hot right now. Joining the pop-up scene is chef Ryan Barnett, formerly of Neighborhood Services, Bistro 31 and Ormsby Catering. The second in his series of four pop-ups is happening at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at My Private Chef in Deep Ellum. So why does Barnett, who trained in the French culinary technique want to switch gears and get it poppin'? We just had to ask.
Why did you decide to do this pop-up series? About a year ago, I was in talks to open a restaurant. Things changed, as they often do, and that deal fell apart, but after that I just couldn't shake the idea that I wanted to do my own thing. I've been fortunate enough to work with a lot of really talented owner/operator chefs, and I guess that passion was bound to rub off on me. By doing pop-up dinners, I feel that I am able to really focus on just one night and craft a completely different experience with each dinner.
Now that you have one dinner under your belt, what can guests expect out of the next three that's different? Each of my dinners has its own unique feel and theme. For the first dinner I focused on seafood: mussels, crab, and flounder. This next dinner is a look at poultry and fowl, starting with paté as part of the first course, a roasted quail for the main and finishing with an egg custard for dessert. Each course has its own unique character, but when combined they all represent a central theme. My dinners in August will feature a look at land mammals as well as a vegetarian dinner. The complete theme for my summer series is sea, air, land and earth.
When you're not cooking, what do you like to eat? I eat pho at least once a week. Also, there's a little taco shack on Harry Hines that I've gone to since I was in high school, and I've never had a bad meal at The Grape.
Thursday's menu sounds incredible (Bordeaux picnic plate, Texas pea cassoulet, caramelized Navarro shallots, duck confit, slow-roasted quail en crouté, mixed field mushrooms, chef's garden herbs, toasted pecan pot de crème). What inspired you to design it as you have? For years I have looked at the recipes in Ma Gastronomie and really wished that I could create some of that classic food, La Grande Cuisine, in a more approachable format.
Why do you think the whole farm-to-table trend is taking off? Is it really a trend? I like to think the awful trend of premade processed food is finally behind us and we're back to eating real food.
Touché. If you could cook alongside another chef -- dead or alive -- who would it be and why? Marco Pierre White, no question. Anytime I thumb through my copy of White Heat I'm inspired. The quality of food and the energy that he had in the kitchen at Harvey's is something I can only dream of replicating.
Tickets for the four-course dinner by chef Barnett are $50, not including gratuity. For reservations email ChefRB@me.com or call 214-707-6986. Oh, and it's BYOB.